Wearing the robes we weave
By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register
One of my most memorable life lessons came from my mom.
When she returned home from an extended stay at the hospital, she advised, "Never get out of your robe until you're ready. As soon as they see you dressed, it's game on."
I was all of about 10, and by "they" she meant my dad, my brother and me.
I didn't think much of it at the time. But since bringing my first born home nine years ago this week, her words have echoed in my mind as I've suited up and showed up, pretending I was ready to go when I was actually in bad need of rest.
It was true when I brought the babies home. It was even truer when I fell ill without enough support in place for me and my boys. It was truest of all during the last nine months, spent recalibrating normal as I transitioned to being a single mom.
As I've begun sorting out life in my new circumstances, trying to figure out what works best for both me and my boys, I've also been giving some thought to a different robe story; one involving my dad's blue terry-cloth robe.
My dad loved to entertain. He would invite people over to visit late into the night. Then, suddenly, he'd appear at the stair landing rocking that robe and announcing he was done for the night. We started using the blue terry-cloth robe as a metaphor for being done.
When you get an opportunity to examine your life during what reasonably seems like the middle of it, you consider first what you're now done with, what you can or must now let go of in order to move forward.
I've kept myself wrapped in a metaphorical robe while mulling what things from my old life I needed to let go.
Thankfully, my editors had the grace to let me hit the pause button, as writing in general has not been on my immediate to do list, let alone writing this column specifically.
As I went about trying to figure things out, I'm afraid I messed up a lot. In fact, I neglected such elemental things as paying my water bill.
You know what happens when you avoid facing up to paying your water bill? You get some warning letters.
You know what happens when you avoid facing up to opening your mail? You never see any of those warning letters.
One day, you come home from work and your kids' soccer practice, located at two different fields across town but at the same time, by the way. And when you go to fill the tub and make some hot tea, you find you can do neither. It seems the water's been shut off.
Aware the kids are scrutinizing your reaction, you have to decide in a split second how you're going to handle this self-made crisis.
I told my boys I'd made a mistake, a series of them in fact. I told them I had been avoiding some of my chores, and this was a consequence. Can't blame me for trying to turn it into a teaching moment, right?
We borrowed water from a neighbor and declared a camping night.
My oldest noted, "Well, at least we have electricity!" My youngest shot back, "We should have water ready for emergencies anyway."
Bam. Survival skills. You're welcome, dear ones!
It really does all come down to attitude doesn't it? Emphasizing the impact attitude has on quality of life was one of the best survival skills I was ever taught.
It it is 100 percent one of those practice not preach kind of things.
My parents owned and operated restaurants when I was growing up. When someone broke into the one in downtown Tacoma, cleaning out the till and cheesecake display, my parents knew just what to do.
They took the large rock he'd used to gain entry and turned it into a display stand. Henceforth, it was used to display a new creation — "Burgler's Delight Cheesecake."
At year's end, I think I may buy myself a fancy new robe and let my kids develop some childhood robe stories of their own. I'd like for it to be a symbol of what taking care of yourself looks like.
I might even learn to make cheesecake, introducing the taste of another story I grew up to the boys' minds and hearts as well.
Meanwhile, I'll keep recalibrating my normal. And you, dear readers, can count on beginning to hear about it on a regular basis again.
Extra credit to anyone who gets my headline :)
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